Behind Enemy Lines: South Carolina preview with Ben Portnoy of The State

·4 min read

This Saturday, the No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to town for the SEC opener at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Both teams come into the game with a 1-0 record. Arkansas took care of business last Saturday afternoon by holding off a comeback attempt by then-No. 24 Cincinnati, 31-24 while the Gamecocks defeated Georgia State, 35-14 in Columbia.

Saturday’s game will rekindle an old rivalry that dates back to 1992 when both programs entered the SEC at the same time. The programs, which had never met prior to the 1992 season, played every season from 1992 until 2013 as permanent divisional cross-over opponents. That changed when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the conference in 2012. Now, Arkansas enjoys a more convenient geographical rivalry with Missouri, while the Gamecocks are stuck with Texas A&M as a permanent opponent.

Arkansas currently holds a 13-10 advantage in the series, but South Carolina has won three straight over the Razorbacks. In their last meeting, South Carolina outgained Arkansas 358-330 in their 48-22 victory in 2017.

It has been four seasons since Arkansas and South Carolina met each other on the gridiron, so there is some catching up to do. Ben Portnoy, South Carolina beat writer for The State, will help us do just that in this week’s edition of “Behind Enemy Lines.”

In this week’s segment, Portnoy talks about the Gamecocks’ win over Georgia State, what Spencer Rattler brings to the offense, and what a win over a ranked Arkansas squad would mean to the legacy of head coach Shane Beamer.

Without further delay, here is this week’s edition of “Behind Enemy Lines” with Ben Portnoy of the State.

What stood out to you most about South Carolina's 35-14 win over Georgia State last Saturday?

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

I think the Gamecocks defense looked the part of a unit that’s going to help it win games. South Carolina gave up a big play here or there, but it largely limited a really good Georgia State rushing attack through the middle portions of the contest.

USC has the makings of one of the better secondaries in the league and I think that showed in notching nine pass break ups and holding Georgia State QB Darren Grainger to just 7 of 29 passing for 111 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

How much of a boost has Oklahoma transfer Spencer Rattler provided the Gamecocks offense?

AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.

It’s hard to overstate how important Rattler is. South Carolina’s QB situation was a mess a year ago, rotating four different guys at the position. The Gamecocks still won seven games despite that revolving door, but Rattler gives them stability they desperately needed.

The ex-OU signal-caller is going to make mistakes. That comes with his gunslinger mentality. He’s also going to make the throws very few players in America can and that changes the ceiling of this football team.

Besides Rattler, what other players do Arkansas fans need to be aware of?

AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.

I think WR Antwane “Juice” Wells is primed for a huge season. He’s an FCS transfer from James Madison, but he rewrote the record books in just two years with the Dukes. Jaheim Bell is also going to be a difference maker on offense. He’s a matchup nightmare given his athletic ability at 6-3, 232 pounds. He’ll line up everywhere from running back and fullback to receiver and tight end.

Defensively, you have to circle DB Cam Smith. He’s more than likely going to be a first round pick in this year’s NFL draft. He’s got ideal size and length and can talk trash with the best of them. That said, his play more than backs it up. He’s been repping at both nickel and corner and will play basically wherever a team’s best receiver is.

In year two, head coach Shane Beamer is looking for his first signature road win over an SEC foe. What will a win at Arkansas mean for his legacy?

AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.

I don’t think it’s overstating it to say this would be the biggest win of the very young Shane Beamer era. South Carolina’s wins over Florida, Auburn and North Carolina last year were great, but this is a legitimately good Arkansas team that almost certainly will finish in the AP Top 25 at season’s end.

This would be an enormous feather in Beamer and his staff’s cap if they can nab an upset on the road.

What does South Carolina need to do in order to get a win Saturday?

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks have to be able to block. South Carolina’s offensive line was atrocious a year ago and caused a lot of issues for the offense, the quarterback situation notwithstanding.

The offensive line looked mediocre at best against Georgia State and there were still way too many mistakes. If they can flip the script and give Rattler enough time to do his thing, South Carolina has a chance. If not, Arkansas may bowl over the visitors with ease.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire